Hartlepool father of missing Katrice Lee blasts 'cruel and evil' Facebook troll after impersonator spared jail

A ‘cruel’ woman who posed online as missing Katrice Lee has been spared jail.

Wednesday, 30th October 2019, 2:20 pm
Updated Wednesday, 30th October 2019, 3:14 pm
Richard Lee (69) with a photograph of his daughter Katrice aged 18 months. Picture by FRANK REID

Heidi Robinson, 40, set up a Facebook profile under the name of Katrice, who vanished on her second birthday on November 28 1981, in Germany, near the British military base where her father Richard Lee from Hartlepool was stationed.

Wirral Magistrates' Court heard Robinson sent a Facebook friend request in August last year to Katrice's sister Natasha Walker, who lives in Hampshire.

In a statement, Mrs Walker said she "felt sick to the pit of my stomach" when she saw the profile.

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Heidi Robinson, who pleaded guilty to a malicious communications offence after impersonating missing toddler Katrice Lee online. Photo: Peter Byrne/PA Wire

Andrew Downie, prosecuting, said Mrs Walker messaged the profile, which included photos of Katrice and her family, and asked for it to be removed before later contacting military police, who are investigating Katrice's disappearance.

She said: "We are going through a living hell and we don't need anything else adding in."

Robinson, gave a DNA sample to police which confirmed she was not Katrice, the court heard.

Mr Downie said: "Despite that result and Natasha, on a number of occasions, asking Heidi Robinson to take the profile down the defendant continued to message Natasha up to November 3, 2018, still purporting to be Katrice and now stating that she thought the result of the DNA test was a cover up and that Natasha Walker herself should be investigated."

An age progression picture of how Katrice Lee may look aged 38.

Sentencing her on Wednesday, October 30, District Judge Nicholas Sanders said it was clear Robinson had been suffering from a mental illness when she committed the act of "unimaginable cruelty".

He gave her an 18-week prison sentence suspended for two years with a mental health treatment requirement for 12 months and ordered her to carry out rehabilitation activity for 40 days.

Richard, 69, who was in court said afterwards he thought Robinson had "got away very lightly" and called her an "evil and wicked troll".

In a statement he said: "For you this saga may end here. My family do not have that luxury.

"Our nightmare continues, you cannot see the wounds that you have inflicted, but the scars you have left run deep."

Ember-Jade Wong, defending, said Robinson had no understanding of her offending due to her condition at the time, believing up until very recently when she became fitter, that she was Katrice.

District Judge Sanders said: "I'm satisfied, based on reports, that you had developed an honestly held belief which I have to accept is hard to understand to people not suffering from it, that you were Katrice Lee."

Robinson, of East Way in Moreton, Merseyside, pleaded guilty earlier this month to using a public communications network to send a message that was grossly offensive, indecent or menacing on November 3 last year.

She was also ordered to pay £500 compensation to Mrs Walker, given a restraining order to stop her contacting the Lee family and issued with a nighttime curfew.